Findings from a study of adverse interpersonal effects from antidepressants were recently published online. The adverse interpersonal effects we reported by more than half of the subjects, though more than half of the subjects were on them for 3 years.
The gated, full article described a cluster of reported side-effects that it described as “closing down”. Note the last sentence. [emphasis mine]
Our findings, from the largest sample to date, suggest that it may be important to follow up results from smaller, qualitative studies, with large-scale surveys. All four of the emotional or interpersonal effects identified in previous qualitative studies (Gibson et al., 2014, Goldberg and Moncrieff, 2011 and MIND, 2012) were reported to be very common: Feeling Emotionally Numb (60%), Feeling Not Like Myself (52%), Reduction In Positive Feelings (42%), Caring Less About Others (39%). Between 16% and 35% experienced these four effects as either ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’. Furthermore, all four effects were strongly associated with the belief that suicidality was experienced ‘as a result’ of the ADs, as was Agitation. This is consistent with a study that found suicidality associated with the adverse effects ‘emotional blunting’ and ‘emotional instability’ (Goldberg and Moncrieff, 2011).
Younger people were more likely to experience Feeling Emotionally Numb and Feeling Not Like Myself, and men were more likely to experience Reduction In Positive Feelings and Caring Less About Others.
This diminished capacity to experience feelings, positive or negative, and to care about other people, might be characterized as a sort of ‘closing down’, a withdrawal from the emotional and interpersonal world. This might be considered an exacerbation of the problems for which ADs are prescribed in the first place. These effects may also reduce the probability of using other pathways to recovery.
The continued use of the drugs makes one wonder if some of these adverse effects, like numbing, aren’t also experienced as a benefit.